Posts Tagged 'DMA'

The Art of Installing Media

Truth: 24 frames per second took a team of DMA staff to create and Lance Lander, Manager of Gallery Technology & Innovation, shared the nuts-and-bolts logistics of putting together  the challenging installation with Uncrated.

What are some past media installations you’ve mounted and how were they special or different from Truth?
The first large scale installation that I did was Fast Forward in 2006. I had fourteen media based works of art to install and maintain. One of the works was “I like it here better than in Westphalia,” El Dorado 1968-1976 by Lothar Baumgarten which is three slide projectors and sound. The piece is a beautiful work of art that uses technology to convey the beauty found in nature. There is a soundtrack that controls the advancement of the slide projectors. So you have the sounds and visuals of nature and the sounds and visuals of the mechanical slide projectors. The projectors require a lot of maintenance and I spent many hours keeping that thing going. In retrospect, working so hard on that piece made me fall in love with the job.

Other large scale installations I’ve done include Phil Collins’ the world won’t listen, and the exhibitions Private Universe and Mirror Stage.

What were some of the major time consuming tasks that you had to complete before installing the works of art?
For a typical video installation like the Rachel Rose, Omer Fast, or Steve McQueen, where you have a single channel video with sound, I like to have 5 days for installation. For this exhibition with 24 works of art we had a mere three weeks. We worked late nights and weekends all the way up to the opening. Because the exhibition is in two galleries at opposite ends of the building I was walking eight miles a day!

From 16mm projectors to 12-feet-tall LED screens, Truth encompasses a range of diverse technologies. Were there any works especially challenging to install? Do you have a favorite?
I really love the historical connection we made in the Bruce Conner REPORT space. Our Exhibition Designer, Skye Olson, was able to procure 6 original seats from the Texas Theater which is where Lee Harvey Oswald was captured.  But the most difficult piece, and my favorite, is Western Flag by John Gerrard. It is also the only piece in the exhibition that is not a film or video. It’s a software based simulation of a landscape. Essentially, it’s a non-interactive video game. Mr. Gerrard sent very precise drawings and stated that if it was even 2 millimeters off we would need to rebuild it. Our carpenter, Josh Harstrom, built the walls of the cube and Tom McKerrow and Brian Cahill built the frame of the projection screen. The preparators stretched and stapled the screen. When Mr. Gerrard arrived he was impressed with all the work we had done.

This exhibition was truly a cross-departmental collaboration that has involved every branch of the Museum. Can you call out some MVPs who helped you knock it out?
Mike Hill was the Head Preparator for this show and he did, as always, an incredible job. He took over the Anne Tallentire Drift and Dara Birnbaum Tiananmen Square installations. He also installed all of the acoustical material and covered them with fabric in the James Coleman space. Doug Velek has assisted me on everything I’ve installed since I started working here. I couldn’t have done it without him. All of the preparators stepped up to make the exhibition happen. John Lendvay, Mary Nicolette, Sean Cairns, Erik Baker, Ellia Maturino, Marta Lopez, and Russell Sublett all served a vital role. Registrar Melissa Omholt was so great to work with. She kept the flow of information going and kept me on track. There was also the design that Jessica and Skye came up with. Some of these pieces require specific room dimensions and I am amazed they were able to make it all fit and have all of the artists agree to it. I would be remiss to not mention Joni and her equable style of managing complex exhibitions with aplomb.

But I really can’t stress enough the indelible impact that Sue MacDarmid had on the exhibition. I first met Sue in 2007 when she came to install the world won’t listen. She represents and installs for Willie Doherty, Phil Collins, Steve McQueen, and others. When we started discussing an all media show I knew that she would be an integral part. I was able to reach her early enough to schedule her for three weeks. She is one the best media installers and she inspires me. I have so much trust in her that whenever she had an idea I would make it happen.

Chelsea Pierce is the Curatorial Administrative Assistant, Contemporary Art at the DMA

Testing for Truth

The Center for Creative Connections has an area designated as the Testing Zone. The space consists of two walls, each with a chalkboard, a large table with stools, and three wires from which items can be suspended for display. The Testing Zone debuted in 2012 as a vehicle for education staff to evaluate the ways visitors engage with various types of art, experiment with potential in-gallery activities, and enable visitors to share their preferences on what objects and interpretative materials are provided in permanent collection galleries.

Prior to the opening of Truth: 24 frames per second, we decided to use the Testing Zone to post a series of open-ended questions and gauge visitors’ interest in a range of topics inspired by works in the exhibition. Unlike most Testing Zone activities, the Truth experiment was challenging because participants did not have the benefit of seeing the works beforehand, nor could we summarize the full scope of the exhibition in the limited amount of space. Additionally, the exhibition resists traditional notions of fine art and consciously avoids a singular narrative, lesson, or point of view.

After reading the series of prompts clipped to the Testing Zone’s three display wires, visitors selected one or more slips of paper to share their thoughts. Each slip contained a single prompt followed by five potential responses that would indicate their level of interest in the topic, whether the prompt was easily understood, and whether the question was something they wanted to encounter at the Museum or discuss in a community forum. The back of each piece of paper was left available for people to write additional thoughts.

Much to my surprise, nearly 350 visitors shared their feedback over two weeks. The responses allowed me to rephrase some of the questions and set others aside. In the end, the prompts became part of the exhibition’s visitor guide and the conversation continues via Twitter (#DMATruth) and written responses which provide the source material for a scrolling LED sign hanging near the exhibition’s entrance.

Emily Schiller is the Head of Interpretation at the DMA

Arts & Letters Live Announces its 27th Season

Arts & Letters Live, the DMA’s signature literary and performing arts series, is excited to announce its 27th season of 25 events from January through June 2018! Ignite your curiosity and secure your seats now to hear award winners and icons in the fields of literature, music, visual art, poetry, happiness, and food.

Some of the headliners for the 2018 season include:

▪ Creator-producer-screenwriter of the PBS Masterpiece series Victoria, Daisy Goodwin

▪ Happiness researcher and bestselling author Shawn Achor, whose TED Talk has more than 16 million views

▪ Grammy Award–winning vocal ensemble Conspirare’s Dallas premiere performance of Considering Matthew Shepard

▪ Emmy Award–winning journalist and producer Maria Shriver

▪ Award-winning poet and author Naomi Shihab Nye, who will debut a new poem inspired by a work of her choice in the DMA’s collection and will juxtapose works from the collection with a live reading of her poetry

Two authors who have been on Arts & Letters Live’s wish list for years, Pulitzer Prize winner Jhumpa Lahiri and Booker Prize winner Michael Ondaatje, will take part in the Distinguished Writers series. Jhumpa Lahiri will talk about her experience moving to Rome with her family, seeking full immersion in the Italian language—“a trial by fire, a sort of baptism.” Imagine being soaked in the art, language, and culture of Rome for an extended period of time, enjoying beautiful vistas of the Colosseum as seen here in Jean-Achille Benouville’s painting.

Jean-Achille Benouville, Colosseum Viewed from the Palatine, 1844, oil on canvas, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. George A. Shutt, Dr. and Mrs. George N. Aldredge, Jr., the Societe Generale, 1984.63

Many opportunities exist this season to connect art in the DMA’s collection with authors and books featured at Arts & Letters Live, both through pre-event tours and short story, poetry, and illustration workshops, often using works of art as inspiration for writing and drawing. On February 7, author Denise Kiernan will talk about her new nonfiction book The Last Castle: The Epic Story of Love, Loss, and American Royalty in the Nation’s Largest Home, which explores the drama and tragic struggles of the famous Vanderbilt family inside the Biltmore House. This story features a captivating cast of real-life characters, including F. Scott Fitzgerald, John Singer Sargent, James Whistler, Henry James, and Edith Wharton. The pre-event tour will spotlight a beautiful console table that was once housed in the Vanderbilt mansion in New York City and other paintings and decorative arts of that era.

Vanderbilt Console, Herter Brothers, c. 1881–82, oak, marble, silverplate, and bronze, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of an anonymous donor and the Friends of the Decorative Arts, 1996.213.a-e

Bestselling cookbook author, Emmy Award–winning television personality, and successful restaurateur Lidia Bastianich will talk about her heartwarming memoir My American Dream: A Life of Love, Family, and Food. Bastianich spent two years in a refugee camp before moving to the United States—a hugely formative experience in her life. You can enjoy a dinner featuring some of her favorite recipes before the event and hear her share stories about those dishes. Her vibrant personality and love of food call to mind one of my favorite still lifes in the DMA’s collection by Paul Cézanne.

Paul Cézanne, Still Life with Apples on a Sideboard, 1900–06, watercolor over pencil on paper, Dallas Museum of Art, The Wendy and Emery Reves Collection, 1985.R.12

Arts & Letters Live will delve further into the theme of immigration with a dynamic pairing of two award-winning authors, Luis Alberto Urrea and Francisco Cantú, who will explore the United States–Mexico border in fact and fiction. Cantú served for years as a US Border Patrol guard, and Urrea’s forthcoming novel, The House of Broken Angels, paints a vivid portrait of a complex family and reminds us what it means to be the first generation and to live two lives across one border. Dallas Nine artist William Lester’s painting The Three Crosses evokes for me the often tragic aspects of border crossings. The stark landscape with barbed wire is not Golgotha, but is recognizably Texas.

William Lester, The Three Crosses, 1935–36, oil on Masonite, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of the New York World’s Fair Department of Contemporary Art, 1937.24, © The Estate of William L. Lester

 

To see a complete roster of the Arts & Letters Live 2018 season from January through June, visit DMA.org/all.

Carolyn Bess is the Director of Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

 

A Year of Art

For a fun and creative idea this holiday season, give the gift of art with a DMA membership! Give friends and family an entire year of art, including access to all special exhibitions, exclusive members-only experiences, and so much more.

Membership benefits include:

  • Free parking in the DMA garage
  • Free admission to ticketed special exhibitions
  • Exclusive Member Preview Days
  • DMA Store discounts
  • and more!

Learn something new, create fresh memories, and experience the love of art. This is one gift that will keep on giving all year long!

To give the gift of art to someone you love, call 214-922-1247 or email members@DMA.org today!

Ingrid Van Haastrecht is the Director of Membership Operations and Analysis at the DMA.

Homer for the Holidays

They say there’s no place like home for the holidays, and here at the Museum, we’ve been excited about one of the oldest stories about going home: The Odyssey. On Wednesday, November 29, DMA Arts & Letters Live will host award-winning author Daniel Mendelsohn as he talks about his book An Odyssey: A Father, a Son, and an Epic. Mendelsohn’s memoir shares what he learned from teaching his dad in a university course on Homer’s The Odyssey, reading and reliving this epic.

Thanks to the DMA’s wonderful collection of classical art, visitors can view Greek artworks related to Homer’s The Odyssey before Mendelsohn’s talk. Here are a few of our favorites.

Heroes

The star of The Odyssey, Odysseus, is not your typical hero. As Mendelsohn’s dad points out, Odysseus “lost all his men . . . is a liar . . . cheated on his wife . . . and without the gods [is] helpless” (Mendelsohn). However, classical heroes are not necessarily moral, but merely impressive people who fought well and died for honor. The DMA’s  funerary sculpture of a young man shows the Greek idea of a hero: a great man who died bravely in battle. This idealized nude figure at the prime of his life is memorialized in a military stance.

Figure of a young man from a funerary relief, Greek, Attic, c. 330 B.C.E., marble, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Mr. and Mrs. Cecil H. Green, 1966.26

Frenemies

The real prototype for a Greek hero is Achilles, the famed warrior of Homer’s epic The Iliad. We find Achilles fighting on this DMA black-figure panel amphora. Looking back to The Iliad, the interactions between Achilles and Odysseus are strained, even while they fight for the same side. Achilles tells Odysseus, “I hate . . . like the very Gates of Death [that man] who stoops to peddling lies” (as translated by Fagles). Since Odysseus uses tricks constantly, it makes sense that the two don’t get along.

Black-figure panel amphora, Greek; Attic, last quarter of 6th century B.C.E., ceramic, Dallas Museum of Art, Munger Fund, 1965.29.M

Seduction and Violence

The Odyssey illustrates the dangers of two timeless powers: love and death. Look inside this DMA kylix, or drinking bowl, and you’ll find a familiar face: a siren. The enchanting sirens are one of Odysseus’s obstacles, and they combine the two dangers of seduction and physical violence. Placed on the interior of this bowl, the image of the siren was likely meant to ward off evil.

Black-figure kylix, Attic, c. 550-530 B.C.E., ceramic with slip, Dallas Museum of Art, gift of Bill and Jean Booziotis and Wendover Fund in honor of Pepecha Zarafonetis Booziotis, 2004.19

Immortality

Gold olive-leaf wreaths typically crowned athletes, influential politicians, or individuals who had died. When crowning dead bodies, as this DMA wreath likely did, the undying gold may have symbolized the hope that the fame of the individual would triumph in immortality. The desire for immortality was a frequent theme in Greek mythology. However, Odysseus is unique in that, when offered immortality from the goddess Calypso, he refuses it. For him, reaching home is more important than eternal life.

Wreath, Greek, 4th century B.C.E., gold, Dallas Museum of Art, Museum League Purchase Funds, The Eugene and Margaret McDermott Art Fund, Inc., and Cecil H. and Ida M. Green in honor of Virginia Lucas Nick, 1991.75.55

In Greek, the word nostos refers to a return trip home (fun fact: nostos + algos, which means grief or pain, is the root of nostalgia). Only a small portion of The Odyssey is considered a true telling of nostos, but the prevalence of nostos ballads shows that the Greeks definitely recognized the value of returns. Mendelsohn and his father seem to agree: while reaching the end can be complicated, there is something important about a journey back. Wherever you might be heading this winter, safe travels!

Tickets are still available to see Daniel Mendelsohn at the DMA on November 29! Join me that night for a pre-event tour as we take a closer look at Homer’s themes in the DMA’s Greek collection.

Kathleen Alva, McDermott Intern for Adult Programming and Arts & Letters Live at the DMA.

 

Home Is Where the Art Is

“Now this is the good stuff,” notes Leon Pollard, an artist from the Stewpot Art Program, as he settles in front of Jean Baptiste Marie Pierre’s The Abduction of Europa. We’re exploring flowers in the DMA’s collection, and Leon, who was recently commissioned to paint a mural for his church, immediately points out how Pierre skillfully guides the viewer’s eye across the expanse of the oversized 18th-century canvas. He breaks into a characteristic grin and says, “I really look forward to coming every month. It’s always an education—an inspiration.”

Leon sharing his work in the Sculpture Garden

This summer we marked the one-year anniversary of our monthly gallery teaching program in partnership with The Stewpot, a community outreach program that serves homeless and at-risk populations here in Dallas. Beyond addressing basic survival needs, The Stewpot offers enrichment opportunities for healing, financial support, and personal growth. The Stewpot Art Program offers class time and art supplies to individuals looking to express themselves creatively, grow as artists, and support themselves through the sale of their work. Thanks to Tanya Krueger, one of our DMA docents who also volunteers for The Stewpot, we were able to connect and coordinate a monthly visit for Stewpot artists here at the DMA. Visit by visit, we’ve gotten to know each other and the artists have grown more comfortable in the Museum. A favorite memory of mine is when one of the artists, Donald of Dallas, dropped by to visit during a rainy day, knowing he was welcome at the DMA.

Working with the Stewpot Art Program has been an eye-opening introduction to the realities of homelessness in our community. Our diverse group includes former teachers, first responders, and veterans. Importantly, there is no single narrative of homelessness, and we should never assume that homelessness reflects the consequence of an individual’s poor decisions. Over the past year, I’ve gained a deeper appreciation for the importance of building relationships and inviting our community into the Museum. This point was driven home when Leon observed, “I used to sleep in the Arts District because it’s peaceful and you can sometimes hear music. I never knew this was here! Now I learn something new every visit by looking at the art.”

Luis with David Alfaro Siqueiros’s Self-Portrait (The Great Colonel) in the México 1900–1950 exhibition earlier this year

Words cannot express how grateful and thankful I am to work with this group and get to know the artists. Together, we’ve seen art come alive through our participants’ experience and interpretations. We’ve shared moments of joy and gratitude—such as when one of the artists, Luis, broke into applause in front of David Alfaro Siqueiros’s Self-Portrait (The Great Colonel), which was on view in the special exhibition México 1900–1950: Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, José Clemente Orozco, and the Avant-Garde—and we’ve encouraged each other to take risks and try new styles and subject matter when we sketch in the galleries. We’ve celebrated graduations, new jobs, and a participant receiving a new set of dentures. We have even taken solace in the timeless beauty of the Keir Collection following the unexpected loss of a participant. Our experience illustrates that art is for everyone, and that studying art helps us understand the human experience and enriches our lives. Looking back, especially during the Thanksgiving season, on our time together sharing gallery discussions, art making, and an appreciation for art and each other’s company, I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to work with the amazing Stewpot artists.

Lindsay O’Connor is the Manager of Docent and Teacher Programs at the DMA.

Cookie Monster Learns to Weave

Cookie Monster, who was in town for a Sesame Street Live performance, visited the DMA and tried his hand—paw?—at weaving. Cookie Monster’s visit on February 28, 1995, included a lesson in weaving from experts demonstrating the use of looms that were on display in the Gateway Gallery, now the DMA’s Center for Creative Connections, for the exhibition The Art of the Loom.

I hope Cookie Monster brings a smile to your day, as he always does to mine.

Hillary Bober is the Archivist at the Dallas Museum of Art.


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